Many Congratulations to Nick Alderson for being shortlisted for an ENEI (Employers’ Network for Equality and Inclusion) award for all the great work he and his team have done at the Open Gate Community Garden off Castle Road.

Nick Alderson is a Rural Development Officer in the East Lancashire Community Restart Team and has just been shortlisted for the enei award for Community Impact.

The Open Gate Community Growing Garden in Colne is a social inclusion initiative, developed in partnership with the Open Door Centre. The project acts as an area where local people can learn, develop, enjoy gardening and feel the benefit of inclusion. Eco-therapy has huge benefits for the enhancement of people’s psychological and physical wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence. The project tackles social isolation, social exclusion and has become a flagship community project for the area, offering a safe and friendly environment which is welcoming to all.

The allotment which was inherited from Colne Town Council had been neglected for three years. The land had become hugely overgrown, and had also become an area where fly-tipping was regularly taking place. To date the project has supported three people back into employment, and has provided countless hours of meaningful peer support and community spirit.
Nick Alderson, Rural Development Officer at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said:

“I very quickly forged partnerships with individuals, companies and organisations in the area that were willing to give time, material, advice and support to the project. Partners included Colne Town Council, Lancashire County Council, Pendle Leisure Trust, a local printers, garden suppliers and tree surgeon. All in all over £7000 worth of goods and services were donated to get the project started and help it develop in the first year.

“The project prides itself on giving our freshly grown produce back to the community. We supply the Open Door Café with the produce grown, which provides for many disadvantaged people in Colne and also Pendle. We also distribute our produce to members of the project, and we actively encourage members to try to grow their own fresh produce at home if possible, to keep them engaged in a therapeutic activity.”

“The project has also formed links with the local job centres which signposts people up to the project who are feeling the effects of depression with being out of work, and along with a local college the project provides free Horticultural qualifications at a City and Guild Level to individuals who would like to further their knowledge. The project also won best newcomer at the Town Council allotment awards, which filled our group with a great sense of achievement and pride.”

“I was very surprised to be nominated for the award. It is always nice to be recognised for the work you put in. However it really has been a team effort with my colleagues, Elaine, Barbara and Becky who have also put in a lot of time and effort in ensuring the project is the success it is. I have met some wonderful people who have volunteered at the project, and it is fantastic to see them get something from the project.”

An additional 4 Awards will be delivered on the night: Overall Winner Private 2017, Overall Winner Public 2017, Small Employer of the year 2017, and Top Employers for e-quality 2017.
The enei Awards are an opportunity to nationally recognise the commitment of organisations to achieving diverse and inclusive workplaces and celebrate the teams and individuals who are really making a difference.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on Tuesday, 11th July 2017 during the Award Ceremony kindly hosted by the Law Society.

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